Blind man wins claim for fall that left him paralysed
A BLIND adventurer who was left paralysed after falling from a window at the home of
A BLIND adventurer who was left paralysed after falling from a window at the home of friends in Henley has won his claim for damages.
Mark Pollock, 39, from Dublin, suffered a serious spinal cord injury in the 25ft fall in July 2010 and is now wheelchair-bound.
He blamed Enda and Madeline Cahill for his fall, saying the second floor bedroom window should not have been left open at their home in Remenham Lane, where he was staying during Henley Royal Regatta.
The couple denied they were at fault.
The judge at the High Court in London ruled that the open window created an obvious risk for a blind person, particularly on the second storey of a house with nothing to prevent a fall to the ground below.
Mr Justice Williams Davis said: “I am satisfied that the Cahills failed to discharge the common law duty of care they owed as occupiers. The open window was a real risk to Mr Pollock. They created that risk.”
Mr Pollock, a former rower, will receive compensation from his friends’ household insurers to cover the cost of his long-term care.
In a blog post after the ruling, he said he had deliberately limited his claim for damages to the £2million cap on the Cahills’ insurance policy.
He wrote: “This is a fraction of the financial cost I bear as a result of the fall but I did not think it fair that my friends would have even one moment of worry that they would have to personally pay me a penny.
“Spinal cord injury is described as a catastrophic injury because not only is it horrific for its physical and life-Â altering aspects, it is also prohibitively expensive.”
His solicitor Ben Rogers said the incident had left Mr Pollock with “enormous challenges”.
“Mark Pollock is a remarkable man and has conducted himself with the utmost integrity in relation to this claim and his paralysis,” he said.
“The damages are essential to assist him with his additional care and rehabilitation needs.”
Mr Pollock was 22 when he lost his sight in 1998 but went on to win bronze and silver medals for rowing at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
He also took part in extreme marathons and completed the 1,400-mile Round Ireland Yacht Race 10 days before the fall.
In 2009 he became the first blind person to trek to the South Pole.
Mr Pollock told the court he had no memory of the accident but that he was probably on his way to the bathroom and was disorientated and tripped out the window.
Christopher Wilson-Smith QC, for Mr Pollock, argued that the window should not have been left open.
He said: “An open window at that height, without warning, constituted a trap. He was snared by that trap and he sustained his injuries.”
Stephen Grime QC, for the Cahills, described the falls as “a freak combination of circumstances” which no one could have foreseen and for which no one could be blamed.
The judge said Mr Pollock probably fell through the open window as he was trying to make his way to the bathroom having just woken up.
“He had lost his internal compass,” he said. “When he got to the window he believed that he was at the door. He had forward momentum because of that belief. The result was that Mr Pollock, who did not know that there was a window there or that it was open, fell to the ground.”
He said it was an unusual case as all those involved were close friends and “everyone had great sympathy and regard for Mr Pollock”.
He added: “His athletic achievements would have been notable for someone without any disability. Given his blindness, they were and are remarkable.
“The events of 2010 have meant that Mr Pollock no longer can undertake the athletic challenges of which he was capable before his fall. Having overcome one disability, he now has to come to terms with another.”